Custom White Frames Made for Our Living Room (and How Jeff and I Tackle Home Improvement Projects Together)

by ilene on February 2, 2015 · 2 comments

in decor, holidays, jeff, tutorial, valentines day, wood




This might be one of my most favorite projects that I’ve done in awhile.  Now that I am 38 weeks along in my 2nd pregnancy, I’m officially in nesting mode!  I am full term now so baby can be due any day now and of course I left most of the things I’ve wanted to do around the house until the final month of my pregnancy.   I have all these big ideas that will probably never get completed, but these white frames for our living room was a project that I’ve wanted done for awhile and I’m thrilled we got them finished before baby #2 arrives!

When we moved into our home a two and a half years ago, the previous owners left these Crate and Barrel wall candle holders in the living room above where the couch would go.  Since we didn’t have anything else to put up there at the time and Jeff has a strange opposition to putting holes in the walls and I was also in my final month of pregnancy with Zoey, we just left them there for the past 2 years:


They aren’t bad, in fact, they are really popular decor items. I see the exact same candle holders in staged model homes all the time or on television. They are all over The Bachelor mansion!  I never really loved them though and over the years I’ve just learned to decorate around them and make them my own. During the holidays, I’ve hung our Christmas cards on them and last Valentine’s Day, I blogged about how I decorated them by hanging red heart ornaments:


Its not that I didn’t like the candle holders, its just that they aren’t really my style and I was ready for a change. I also realized that we take so many photos in front of our couch, so I really wanted something there that was more “US”.  I’ve been wanting to construct white frames to hang above our living room couch but  I knew I couldn’t do it all myself because it would involve some sawing of wood.   After a horrifying table saw accident that left me with 13 stitches on my right index finger and a trip to the ER, I swore off working with any saws of any kind.  I still have nightmares from that incident 3 years ago!   So I had to enlist help.  Originally, I had a contractor who was going to install crown molding come over and give me a quote.  He estimated that he would charge me a whopping $750!  So I had to go with Plan B: Ask Jeff.  I was really hoping to avoid going this route because Jeff’s good at a lot of things but he’s not that handy when it comes to building things. He’s the first to admit that himself. I entered our marriage with more power tools than he did. He didn’t even own a hammer! Or a screwdriver!

The biggest reason, however, is that whenever we tackle a project around the house together, I know that I am setting the stage for a battle.  Our marriage is great but nothing can test it more than a good ‘ol  home improvement project.  An example of this is documented when Jeff and I put up the lantern and light mobile in Zoey’s room – we don’t work well together.  Usually when it comes to home improvement projects, it goes something like this:

1.)  I dream up some big idea, browse Pinterest, research materials and come up with a grand plan which I excitedly present to Jeff.

2.) Jeff immediately rejects the idea (due to cost, resistance to change, declaring it not a necessity, lack of time, being more level-headed or any combination of these).

3.) I pout.  Due to Jeff squashing my dreams (and seemingly ruining my life), I am even more determined to make it happen. I proclaim that I will take on the project myself without his help. I huff around the house.

4.)  After a couple of weeks, Jeff eventually comes around not because he wants to actually work on the project but because he wants to make me happy.  He is a good hubby like that.

5.) We set off to Home Depot to gather supplies, wandering the aisles like lost kids for hours and somehow still returning home missing several essential pieces.  This step is repeated several times every weekend until we finally buy everything we need.

6.) Project commences and we are happily working together.  Outlook is optimistic….for a short while.  Project is abandoned midway because one of us (usually me) has absurdly high standards and is disappointed by how things are progressing or because one of us (usually Jeff) breaks something. We fight.  Someone is accused of being too controlling. Someone is accused of being too clumsy.  Communication is ceased.  Project looks like it will never be completed.  Supplies are left abandoned and scattered around the house.  Outlook is dismal.

7.)  Jeff, because he is a bigger person than I am, comes around and decides to finish off the project after weeks of frosty silence.  I don’t want to seem ungrateful so I offer to help.  We finish the project with marriage intact.  Rejoice!  Years pass before we dare tackle any other home projects.

This is pretty much how the building of these custom frames went.   I really wanted huge square 3’x3′ feet square white frames above our couch.  Jeff didn’t. But he helps me because he knows how important it is to me and wants me to be happy.  And not pay $750 for them.  I also had to promise that we wouldn’t put up any additional holes in the walls.

Building these white frames was a similar process to the framing a mirror tutorial that I blogged a few years ago.  We got about 36 feet of crown molding for $1.33/feet from Home Depot.  Since we didn’t own a miter saw and I am deathly terrified of any type of saws now, we bought a miter box an hand saw for about $15.  Since the crown molding was MDF and not solid wood, it sliced really easily by hand. The measuring and cutting of the molding was Jeff’s job:



We had the  wood panels for the back of the frames cut to size at the Home Depot so that we didn’t have to cut them at home. Ours were 3’x3′:


I was able to piece everything together without nails.  I used wood glue to adhere the molding to the edges of the wood panels and clamped them down:whiteframe2

Not in these pictures, but I ended up using a third clamp on the middle section of each edge because the molding typically is slightly bowed.  I let the glue dry overnight:

Once the wood glue was dry, I filled in the gaps in the corners with wood filler and let dry:

After sanding down the wood filler and wiping off the surface, it was time to paint!whtieframe6


I used Behr’s primer and paint in one in semi-gloss white for this project. It had no VOC which is perfect since I am very pregnant!  Four coats of paint later and these babies were ready to be hung up!

Jeff patched up the holes in the walls and painted over those holes after we took down the wall candle holders.  Because I promised we wouldn’t put any new holes in the walls, we hung up these frames using these Command Picture Hanging Strips. Four sets can hold up to 16lbs of weight, but for extra assurance, we used 6 sets per frame, even though they were at most 5 lbs each. They are very secure and I am not at all worried that they will budge, even with the earthquakes that we have here. Here are the custom frames we built, all hung up:


I plan to switch up whats in the frames seasonally. I think it’ll be fun to decorate for different holidays and events.  With Valentine’s Day coming up in a few weeks, they currently look like this:


The I and J floral monograms are from our wedding (tutorial here) and the small red heart was a plate from Target a couple years ago.  Everything is hung up with command strips for easy, non-permanent removal.  I think it’ll be a fun challenge to change up the decor but to do so on a budget.

So glad that we finished these frames!!!  It definitely was a test to our marriage but also a real testament that we can do anything together!

Total cost for these frames was about $140.  The molding was the most expensive part at about $55 for all of it (we ended up having to go back and buy an extra piece because Jeff accidentally snapped one side in half).  We had to buy a lot of supplies like paint, paint brushes, clamps, wood glue, sandpaper, wood filler, miter box and hand saw and command strips so it could potentially be a lot cheaper if you already had some of those supplies.

Thanks, Jeff, for partnering with me on this project!!  We did it!  And it looks awesome!! (just like I told you it would! 🙂  )

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1 Andrea February 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm

These look amazing! Definitely an idea to marinate- I have some blank walls upstairs in the loft area. I *think* we have an actual miter saw and the hand version, but not sure. I’ll have to raid the garage. 😀 Thanks for sharing! Happy Nesting and wishing you a safe and healthy baby event. <3 <3 <3

2 Irene February 2, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Love it!! I want a set like this in my house too!

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